Is There a Message for ABC in 'Boston Legal' Story Line?

What Everyone Is Talking About

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ABC and David E. Kelly both painted the decision to end "Boston Legal" as a mutual one. But one wonders if Kelly is harboring some kind of resentment about the way the series is ending its five-year run.

The White stuff: Betty's character wants to sue the TV networks.
The White stuff: Betty's character wants to sue the TV networks. Credit: Eric McCandless
Last week's episode, "Juiced," brought back Betty White's murderous character Catherine, who after spending some time being spooky to John Laroquette's Carl, muses she'd like to sue the broadcast networks. Why? Because at her age, she isn't even desirable for the networks, and they don't care what she wants to watch. Carl decides she is right about the networks and says he is over 50 and wants something to watch.

Once Carl takes the case in front of a judge, one can't help but wonder if he was merely a stand-in for Kelly, saying what Kelly wishes he could say outright: that the broadcast networks are no longer is interested in programming for grown-ups, and his kind of show is being phased out in favor of reality shows and dumb game-show premises. Carl argues that if, as the networks claim, their programming decisions are based on money, than why are they ignoring the largest segment of the population, the over-50 baby boomers, who have the most disposable income? Kelly even has Carl argue that the only show with regular characters over 50 is ... well, he won't say the name of his own show because that would really smash the fourth wall, but Kelly has him look straight into the camera to make sure we get the point.

And it appears viewers did get the point. On ABC.com's message boards for "Boston Legal," a 34-year-old viewer with the screen name Larro_Rox asks: "Did anyone else feel as if Catherine Piper's lawsuit and Carl's argument were a direct slam against ABC for allowing 'BL' to leave the airwaves? The sentiments expressed by Carl echoed my own feelings about TV for the past several years. ... Reality TV and 'dumbed down' writing has driven me to view nothing more than the major news networks and ESPN. ... It is time that someone speak out against the trash that comprises today's TV programming. Unfortunately, with the loss of our 'BL' -- the one true intelligent, thought-provoking program -- I am left with Carl's powerful argument ringing in my head: 'Give us something to watch, dammit!'"

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